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Friday night football: Hanover overwhelms Mascoma

  • Seamus Murphy

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 10/9/2020 11:31:36 PM
Modified: 10/9/2020 11:31:29 PM

HANOVER — The Hanover High football team has spent three weeks sharpening the tools in its shed. Good thing, too: The next game the Marauders play might be a win-or-go-home affair.

Hanover improved to 3-0 on Friday night, taking advantage of turnover-prone Mascoma for a 44-8 victory at Merriman-Branch Field. Winless and frequently over their depth last year, the Marauders are now looking ahead to the NHIAA Division II postseason.

New Hampshire football authorities have decided upon a regional pod set-up for the D-II playoffs that factors all 18 schools into the tournament, Hanover coach Sam Cavallaro said after the victory. The Marauders are paired with Lebanon, Bow, John Stark and Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton, with a tie-breaking procedure for seeding purposes yet to be finalized.

Bottom line: After a week off, Hanover’s next contest may well be in the playoffs.

“What we all agreed with coming into this season, at the end of last season, is that we were the nail, and in every game we played, the hammer hit us,” Cavallaro said. “I think the great thing of last year is those guys knew it, but they wanted to get better. All offseason, in the weight room, summer workouts, we talked about being the hammer.”

More like a buzzsaw against the D-IV Royals (0-3), who don’t ordinarily play schools twice their population size. Mascoma turned the football over five times in the opening half; Hanover returned two for touchdowns and scored on a long bomb one play after a third.

“The experience of playing of playing a really great team,” Mascoma coach Kyle Colburn said of Friday’s prime benefit. “They’re definitely stronger. They have bigger numbers than we do. They’re practicing constantly against other people at their level, so they have more juniors and seniors. Playing good competition like that is only going to make us better in the end.”

Hanover won the toss, elected to receive and scored on its first possession. Moe Kado capped a 46-yard march of fewer than two minutes with a 7-yard touchdown dash just 2:04 into the contest.

The turnovers started coming shortly after that. Outside linebacker Seamus Murphy picked off a pass from Royals quarterback Mike Evans, but the Marauders couldn’t convert. They did following a Mascoma punt, however, Murphy punctuating a seven-play, 30-yard possession with a 1-yard dive for a 15-0 lead.

Hanover upped the lead 19 seconds later when defensive lineman Patrick Elder returned a fumbled Mascoma pitch 15 yards for points. Murphy added his second pickoff two plays after that, in roughly the same part of the field, and returned it 32 yards to the house with 33.4 seconds left in the first quarter.

“What I saw in those interceptions was Seamus was just reading that quarterback’s eyes,” Cavallaro said. “I could see him the whole way. He picked up on early that he was staring down his receivers. He took advantage of it.”

Two more takeaways led to two more Hanover TDs in the second quarter. A Connor Chambers fumble recovery prefaced a 62-yard scoring pass from QB Colin Pierce to Kado. Another fumble — recovered by Ben Williams on a Murphy hit — led to a 3-yard Pierce sneak and a 44-0 halftime lead.

The Royals moved the ball well against the Marauders’ reserves in the second half, with Evans getting the visitors’ only score on a 31-yard option keeper early in the third quarter. Cooper Peavey followed with the conversion run.

Beyond that, Colburn plans to concentrate on the Royals’ D-IV future. The division is likely facing an open tournament, with one of its 10 members (Farmington-Nute) canceling its season and another (Somersworth) scheduling just one game. Mascoma, which had seven turnovers on the night, plays divisional foes the next two weeks.

“A team that fast is hard to prep for,” Colburn said. “That part you kind of give a little leeway, but any time you have (seven) turnovers, it’s definitely concerning.”

With D-II split into four regional pods of four or five teams each, the postseason could begin the weekend of Oct. 23-24, Cavallaro said. The Marauders were scheduled to revive their rivalry with Lebanon then; what actually happens remains to be seen.

Hanover will simply use the time to keep the workshop warm.

“When you’re 2-0 or 3-0, the guys are a lot more focused on what you’re teaching,” Cavallaro said. “If you’re 0-3, it’s a challenge. What this has done is give us a little breathing room to grow these guys a bit.”

Audibles: Murphy ran for a game-high 47 yards for Hanover. Williams finished with 30 yards, and Kado had 24. … Josh Evans led the Mascoma runners with 39 yards on six attempts. … The only penalty of the evening was an illegal procedure on the Royals when an attempt of a second-half onside kickoff squibbed out of play. … Hanover game officials recognized seniors from both teams prior to the contest. … Peavey recorded Mascoma’s only takeaway, a third-quarter fumble recovery. … Mascoma lineman Hawkens Barton left the game with a second-period injury and didn’t return. … Mother Nature contributed a brief shower in the third stanza. “The rain is making it special,” one referee deadpanned. … Hanover is off next weekend. Mascoma welcomes Newfound — and former Royals coach Ray Kershaw — to West Canaan on Oct. 17.

Greg Fennell can be reached at or 603-727-3226.

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